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Christian Bale: The Inside Story of the Darkest Batman – A Book Review


Christian Bale coverWith the The Dark Knight Rises now in theaters, Batman is, once again, nearly unescapable, whether via television promos, billboards, or movie tie-ins. Obviously, this also means that the brooding Christian Bale, this generation’s Bruce Wayne, is just as present and may have many geeks out there wondering what it takes to portray Wayne, what Bale is like in person, and how he rose to the level where he was chosen to play one of the most iconic and recognized superheroes of all time. If you find yourself wondering about the Bale behind the Batman, I suggest you check out BenBella Books’  Christian Bale: The Inside Story of the Darkest Batman by Harrison Cheung and Nicola Pittam, which tells the story of Cheung’s exciting and disturbing adventure during the years he spent as Bale’s publicist, marketer, and personal assistant. While Cheung’s account may leave Bale fans (the proper term is “Baleheads” – thanks, Harrison!) unsure how they feel about their beloved movie star, I can assure you that this book will shock you, make you laugh out loud, and forever change the way you view Hollywood, celebrities, and Mr. Bale himself.

Let me start off by saying that one of the strongest elements of Christian Bale: The Inside Story of the Darkest Batman is the voice of its narrator, Harrison Cheung. While Harrison is not shy about his accomplishments, he never comes off as arrogant, fake, or sleazy, a common pitfall when it comes to the “tell-all” books. Authors Harrison Cheung and Nicola Pittam make the book read like a conversation with a close personal friend, and Harrison comes off so disarming and kind hearted, that one instantly trusts him and relates with the descriptions of his experiences. I had the pleasure to meet both Cheung and Pittam this year at San Diego Comic-Con (Check out my video interview with Cheung here.) and am happy to report that they both are very friendly and generous in person, as well. Cheung is the perfect guide throughout the book, and I can only think that the read would have been less enjoyable if the approach had been more cold and sterile, the style of some celebrity biographers. It also helps that Cheung is both a “Balehead” himself, giving the the whole piece a “fanboy’s dream come true” feel to it.

Cheung and Pittam cover nearly every aspect in Bale’s film career over the course of the book, even the years before and after Cheung’s professional departure from the actor, with particular focuses on American Psycho, Batman Begins, and The Dark Knight. There are interesting revelations and trivia tid-bits throughout the book, and it will be sure to entertain and captivate those interested in both Christian Bale and the wide multitude of films he’s acted in. I don’t want to give too much away to potential readers, but here are some particular pieces of information that I found interesting:

– Bale was original up for the role of young Obi-Wan Kenobi in The Phantom Menace at the same time that he was filming Velvet Goldmine with Ewan McGregor.

 – Bale became so intensely in character as Patrick Bateman that his friends would sometimes receive disturbing voicemails from the yuppie serial killer.

– Bale was extremely reluctant to play Batman, but Cheung used legendary comics such as The Killing Joke, The Dark Knight Returns, and Batman: Year One to convince the actor of the seriousness of the role.

– Before Batman Begins, Bale’s dream role was none other than Anakin Skywalker. He felt the Jedi tempted by the dark side would be a perfect fit, but, unfortunately, he was a bit too old for the part.

– Bale’s sister served as a producer and actress in the dark, grim, and odd Batman fan film, The Death of Batman. (FBC trivia: The Batman suit used in The Death of Batman is the same suit used in the FBC Approved web series, Batman of Suburbia!)

I will warn readers that this book is not flattering for Bale and will force you to reconsider exactly what you think of the talented actor. In no way does it appear that Cheung and Pittam have tried to smear the actor. Unfortunately, much like Bale’s now infamous outburst on the set of Terminator: Salvation, the actor has no one to blame but himself and his own self-involved actions. From the moment Cheung meets Christian and his father, David Bale, the pair come off as odd, eccentric, and disturbing. Whether it be Christian’s obsession with decomposing items, David’s massive exaggerations about his time as a pilot, or arguments over whether Christian should be washing his hair, it is clear that there’s something slightly off about the way things were handled in the Bale household. Despite Cheung’s friendly nature and narrative, there’s no way Christian’s former assistant can mask the fact that the actor behaves quite often like a spoiled, immature child, and his father was responsible for reinforcing these elements of Christian’s personality. Perhaps it takes a little insanity or immaturity to be as successful an actor as Christian Bale, but I will leave that up to the readers to determine for themselves. Despite it all, there are still numerous funny and heartwarming scenes described in the Bale household. If you have even a casual interest in Christian Bale or any of his films, I’m sure you will find Christian Bale: The Inside Story of the Darkest Batman a worthwhile and enjoyable read!

You can learn more about Christian Bale: The Inside Story of the Darkest Batman by visiting BenBella Books at their official website. You can also check out the official Facebook page, as well. Also, FBC and BenBella Books will be giving a copy of Christian Bale: The Inside Story of the Darkest Batman this week, so be sure to check out the giveaway here, Gothamites!



Bryant Dillon, Fanbase Press President


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